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Essex Models and Miniatures archive
Today I am looking at the popular Austin Mini in it’s various guises, well in my collection anyway, I’m starting with a late Matchbox model from 2008 as this one is what inspired this article, I actually bought this because I used to own one just like it, same colour too.
This is from the ‘Best of British’ series, 1965 Austin Mini van, scaled at 1:51, and made in Thailand, the number I have for it is BB09, this is still in production and has been produced in many colours and liveries and probably better known as MB713, MB7 or MB53.
Next is the Matchbox racing Mini, No29, this one was released about 1970.
Next is the stange looking Matchbox Mini Ha Ha, No14 and released about 1975, it has what looks like an aeroplane engine sticking out of the bonnet, large rear drag wheels and an overscaled driver sticking out of the roof.
Corgi Juniors answer to the ‘hot’ Mini was this BVRT Vita-Min 1300 Mini Cooper S, it would of had racing decals too, the number 73 and a Castrol logo.
Corgi Junior No21, only ever seen in metallic purple.
Lastly two late Corgi Mini’s, don’t have much Information on these but they were popular as give away cars in a ‘Fina’ petrol station box among other cars.
They do have a 1991 copyright on one of the boxes I have so that would make these a Mattel release.
The real cars
The Mini is a small car that was made by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000. The original is considered a British icon of the 1960s, and its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout (which allowed 80% of the area of the car’s floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage) influenced a generation of car-makers. The vehicle is in some ways considered the British equivalent to its German contemporary, the Volkswagen Beetle, which enjoyed similar popularity in North America. In 1999 the Mini was voted the second most influential car of the 20th century, behind the Ford Model T. This distinctive two-door car was designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis.
Designed as project ADO15 (Austin Drawing Office project number 15), the Mini came about because of a fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis. Petrol was once again rationed in the UK, sales of large cars slumped, the market for German bubble cars boomed. Leonard Lord, the somewhat autocratic head of BMC, reportedly detested these cars so much that he vowed to rid the streets of them and design a ‘proper miniature car’. He laid down some basic design requirements: the car should be contained within a box that measured 10 × 4 × 4 ft (3 × 1.2 × 1.2 m); and the passenger accommodation should occupy 6 ft (1.8 m) of the 10 ft (3 m) length; and the engine, for reasons of cost, should be an existing unit. Issigonis, who had been working for Alvis, had been recruited back to BMC in 1955 and, with his skills in designing small cars, was a natural for the task. The team that designed the Mini was remarkably small: as well as Issigonis, there was Jack Daniels (who had worked with him on the Morris Minor), Chris Kingham (who had been with him at Alvis), two engineering students and four draughtsmen. Together, by October 1957, they had designed and built the original prototype, which was affectionately named “The Orange Box” because of its colour
For a history of the Mini Click Here
Been out today to one of the biggest military vehicle shows in Essex and wasn’t disappointed, I took over 100 pictures of the vehicles (many will find there way onto my 1:1 scale gallery), they had dozens of stalls including diecast stalls and model stalls, I of course couldn’t come away without looking, at least.
Among the stuff on one stall I found this little car below, yet never seen one before so this intrigued me and just had to buy it.
It’s made by Corgi and called a Minissima, Corgi No 288.
The scale of this intruging little car is 1:36.
To see other articles on small cars Click Here for the Corgi OSI Daf city car
The real car
William Towns’s Minissima uses Mini subframes and an 850cc engine with automatic transmission. The body is a light spaceframe construction with aluminium panels. Access is via a single door at the rear. There are two forward-facing seats at the front and two seats facing inwards behind. The fuel tank is under the front passenger seat. This car was introduced in 1972 at the Townscar, but renamed Minissima when shown by BL at the 1973 Motor Show. It is now at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon.
The whole idea behind it, was it could be parked on the street end on, giving more parking spaces, the door being at the back means you exit on the pavement.
This design may be over 30 years old and maybe even ahead of it’s time, but if this was produced now would probably attract far more interest.
This really comes under concept cars because it never really took off but prototype cars were produced, to see more on this car Click Here
The Austin Princess has been dubbed the forgotten car and even in it’s day had many critics, more commonly known as the ‘wedge’, this Corgi Vanguards version has fantasic detail right down to the windscreen wipers and wing mirrors.
This is from the 1:43 scale ‘classics’ selection although now not on the Corgi website, I did have the fortune of finding one of these to start my ‘ The cars I owned’ collection, this is the first car to add to this range.
This was a limited addition of only 5010, never really sure why they are odd numbers, and this one is number 391 of 5010.
The model has the Vanguards number, VA10200 in brooklands green.
It is a different model to the one I had but the one that came up , mine (picturedbelow) had the square headlights rather than the round one’s in the model which is an 1800L and of course the colour is different, I have now been told there is a Vanguards 2200HL version which has the same headlights as mine so will be looking out for it, mine was also badged with the Leyland emblem.
The picture was taken in the late 80′s when I was the proud owner of this car and enjoyed every minute of owning it.
For more on the real car Click Here
Matchbox were always on the ball and even in the early Superfast years seemed to produce up to the minute models.
This article brings together the Matchbox Citroen SM and the BMC 1800 Pininfarina, in a way they are connected in the real world but first the models.
The Citroen SM No51 was released in 1972, the same year the real one won the 1972 Motor Trend Car of the Year award in the U.S, and was in production until 1977.
This was available in red metallic or blue metallic and the red one has either a white or red interior.
The BMC 1800 Pininfarina, N056, was released in 1969 and with Superfast wheels, this was available in Gold and later in orange, the real car was in fact a concept design that was never put in production.
The real cars are linked in a way depending on what you read, the BMC, although never produced as a production car the design predates the Citroen CX by seven years although look a lot similar, there was also to be an BMC 1100 version, this later could be seen in the design of the Citroen GS.
Some interesting web pages on both cars below;
The Citroen SM
BMC 1800 Pininfarina